Macaw ownership generally presents multiple challenges, such as:
Macaws often lunge at people, especially strangers. The immediate reaction by those “under attack” teaches the macaw that it can control humans with threat behaviors.
Experts believe that lunging rarely is about aggression, but macaws use it as a test and as later on as a game.
Sexually mature macaws regurgitate enthusiastically for their mate (human or feathered). It is best to discourage, not punish, this habit. Note: Regurgitating can also signal a medical condition, like a yeast infection in the crop.
Excessive chewing – especially at certain stages in their life.
They regard anything in your home as a “toy” that can be explored and chewed on; destroying items that you may hold dear or are simply valuable. Undisciplined macaws will chew on electric wiring potentially causing house fires.
They do discover their beaks as method of “disciplining us” once they are out of the “baby stage” and they can generally be somewhat naughty, and it really is important to learn to understand them and to guide their behavior before an undesirable behavior has been established.
Macaws are naturally noisy – their natural voicing does not constitute a behavioral problem. People who are sensitive to noise shouldn’t even consider a parrot as a pet. Trying to suppress parrot vocalizations usually increases it.
People often give increased attention to screaming parrots trying to get them to be quiet. It takes no time at all for a parrot to realize that screaming will get your attention.
Even though the natural call of a macaw can’t (or should not) be entirely eliminated, there are ways to discourage screaming / screeching in your pet macaw. More on “screaming.”
Macaws are extremely food motivated, making food rewards a good training tool. Provide your pet with a treat for doing what you want him or her to do – this will potentially prevent many problems. For example, training a macaw to climb on a stick can prevent problems later when your pet might become territorial around the cage. You can safely remove a stick-trained macaw from his cage and place it on a playtop prior to servicing the cage, thereby avoiding any aggression.
Even a young bird that has not been neglected and abused requires proper guidance; this becomes even more challenging when it involves a rescued bird that may require rehabilitation.
Overall, it is important to guide parrot behavior, but even more so if your feathered family member is a magnificent and powerful macaw.
- AvianWeb Resources: I put together web resources for you to help you understand your pet bird and properly direct him. Please visit the following website to learn more about parrot behavior and training.